$85 Billion in Spending Cuts Now in Effect

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate's Republican leader is calling $85 billion in federal spending cuts a modest step toward curing Washington of its "spending addiction."

Senator Mitch McConnell said the cuts that began taking effect Friday are not as devastating as some predicted.

The Kentucky Republican said families have to trim their budgets and appreciate Washington's step to curb spending.

At midnight Friday the federal government began the process of trimming billions of dollars from its spending plan.

The so-called sequester cuts are the latest example of the ongoing budget stalemate between Republicans and Democrats in Washington.

One by one, congressional leaders arrived at the White House on Friday in hopes of reaching a last-minute deal.

Their meeting with President Obama was closed to press. Still, the hour-long ordeal was more of a photo-op to say they met. No minds were changed.

"None of this is necessary," the president said. "It's happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made."

It's a choice not to raise taxes to accommodate the president's call for a balanced approach.

"Let's make it clear that the president got his tax hikes on Jan 1. Discussions about revenue are over. It's about taking on the spending problem here in Washington," House Speaker John Boehner said.

Fiscal conservatives are thrilled about the cuts, saying the sequester could help trim waste like the following:

  • Multiple agencies that oversee food safety
  • 20 programs to help the homeless and
  • 80 programs to oversee economic development.

Nevertheless, both sides agree it would be better to have more control over how they're made.

"We shouldn't be making a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts to things that businesses depend on and workers depend on, like education, and research and infrastructure," the president said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., showed reporters a furlough notice from the Department of Justice.

It will likely be weeks, however, before major effects of the cuts are realized.

"I think a lot of people may have thought sequester meant shut down of government," Pelosi said. "No, it means more like hold hostage all the things you care about."

Next week the House will pass a new spending bill to avoid a government shutdown that's possible at the end of March.

Meanwhile, Americans can expect budget issues to continue to plague both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Jennifer Wishon

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.